True stories and lessons learned from those still standing through adversity and fiery trials. Hosted by Recovery Writer Annie Highwater, Author of books "Unhooked", and "Unbroken." Created for sharing the lives of those who have struggled with (or have been adjacent to), addiction, alcoholism, codependency, crisis and chaos.
Names, and minor details have been changed to preserve anonymity, but the experiences are real, raw and true. The purpose of this podcast is to let you know you're NOT alone. The world falls apart for everyone at some point, but ANYONE can recover and rise.
In this week's episode I sat down Brenda Stewart, founder of The Addict's Parents United and the Mother of two adult sons who have suffered with substance use and addiction. Together we cover the effects on the family members, in particular the parents of a son or daughter afflicted with an addiction or alcohol problem.
Our side of the house can be crazier and become as sick (if not sicker) as the one struggling with chemically fueled behavior. And we are not usually even high. Those in the peripheral get triggered, suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress induced physical conditions and so on. Addiction effects the health of EVERYONE.
Also - stress led both of us to experience panic attacks. Brenda and I discuss that subject and share coping methods. Because those are the WORST!
We read questions from parents and family members, including how to manage when a son or daughter says vicious things or makes threats for money, how to manage the stress, fear and sadness, and what might someone say to a friend or family member who has an addicted son or daughter.
We both agree on one thing for sure - families DO recover! But it's a group effort.
Listen in for this information and HOPE filled conversation!
Brenda's organization The Addicts Parents United can be found on Facebook and at https://www.tapunited.org/ Check it out!
This week's conversation covers an area that has required intense recovery work for me personally, recovering from an extremist religious childhood. "To the Moon and Back" Author Lisa Kohn (whose NYC accent I love), openly shares her personal recovery story which includes a childhood divided between a strict religious cult upbringing with her mother, and a "no rules apply" household with her father.
I found it compelling how Lisa shares the evolution of awakening from extreme religious beliefs that are their own subculture, in a real, raw way. She shares her journey out of addiction and her path of "accidentally" finding the rooms in which she found support, comfort and healing. Listen in as she shares her fascinating life!
You can find Lisa at https://www.lisakohnwrites.com/ or on social media as @lisakohnwrites for both Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lisakohnwrites. Check her out!
This week's conversation is an important one to me - the need for the family members who love someone struggling with addiction, or alcoholism to recover themselves.
If you have lived very long at all, you most likely have something to recover from. Recovery, addiction and dependency are not always about chemicals; many who are affected by someones substance use find themselves drunk on fear, sadness, drama, and strung out on on worry, obsession, control, panic and codependency.
We ALL have work to do!
Listen in as Virginia, whose husband has battled addiction, shares how his struggles illuminated her own need for a recovery process. SO IMPORTANT!!
She brings the recovery this week, tells her unique story and reveals her own "patchwork" recovery process which is not unlike my own.
What might work for one family, may not be what it takes for another. There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to improving your life and healing family patterns. I believe in the process of healing whether it's 12-step, support rooms, therapy, DBT, EMDR, books, podcasts, prayer, meditation, long walks through nature...or all of the above!
Lots of hope, encouragement, information and ideas in this week's episode!
You can find Virginia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrsaddictt/ and Instagram: @mrs._addict
This week's conversation delves into the dark topic of sexual trafficking. Ohio ranks 4th in the nation for sexual trafficking. Trauma and addiction lurk behind each story.
In 2009 Franklin County Court Judge Paul Herbert set up CATCH Court, a specialized docket seeking to provide structure and support to help women caught trafficking find their way to freedom and healing. Hannah Estabrook, co-author of the book "Beyond Desolate," is the Coordinator for CATCH Court and sits down to describe the lives of those who are caught in trafficking and the process of leading them out.
I find Hannah's heart and passion for working with these women beyond amazing.
Check out what CATCH Court is doing! https://vimeo.com/284773814
You can find Hannah's book here: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Desolate-Tammy-Schultz/dp/0884692795
In this week's conversation, I sit down with a friend from home and hashed out the painful recovery of a friendship gone bad. This is a difficulty that unfortunately many of us experience at least once in a lifetime.
When it comes to dealing with family adversity, addiction and so on - safe, healthy, compassionate friends are an absolute must. Some of us have experienced loss and letdown in this area, while struggling in family circumstances...which is a heartache that is almost unbearable. As well, many of us have been the toxic one a time or two ourselves, let's be fair.
Listen in as we compare how each of us have dealt with friends, enemies, hate-vibes, and doing the work to heal life in areas that are social saturated!
The conclusion to last week's conversation, "What is DBT therapy?"
This is one of my favorite conversations with Lisa Bond, RN and DBT Solututions Specialist, as we look into the creation of DBT decades ago by Dr. Marsha Linehan who came out in 2017 to the NY Times about her own struggle with mental health, suicidal attemtps and time spend locked in a seclusion room of a mental hospital.
Dr. Linehan made a full recovery, vowing to return for others who with the same overwhelming mental and emotional struggles. DBT was created for those who needed something a bit more besides therapy and medical treatment. It's a powerful, encouraging, validating process that can transform just about any life in upheaval.
I share a few personal experiences, as well as ask Lisa how DBT might help some true case examples - such as a young adult struggling in addiction, a young woman who has been trafficked and traumatized, those who have hair trigger emotions, affected family members and so on.
Lots of hope for anyone distressed themselves or struggling alongside a suffering loved one!
Lisa Bond, RN can be found on: https://lisabonddbtsolutions.com/ and reached personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this episode Part 1 of the two part series, Lisa Bond, RN and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Specialist explains the DBT method of treatment. DBT is found to be efficient and highly effective for those experiencing emotional distress, conflict issues, borderline personality, suicidal ideation, C-PTSD, trauma, and addiction.
Listen to the first part of this podcast series to hear Lisa describe how DBT helps in moments where one might need to breathe and come back down from 60 to 0, whether child, teen or adult. I share some personal experiences with it's effectiveness. DBT is a gift for anyone seeking peace and health, or as a referral source for someone sideline to a loved ones struggle.
I personally became an advocate for DBT while studying it and quickly applying it's principles to my own life. I cannot recommend Lisa Bond, and the DBT process enough as an amazing ingredient to anyone's healing, recovery or health and wellness process!
Lisa Bond can be found on her page: https://lisabonddbtsolutions.com/ Check her out!
(Remixed after last episode had a glitch)
This week's conversation (re-released) is with my ex-husband, "Moose." We open up about both our family backgrounds, as well as mistakes made and lessons learned while trying to co-parent a child who later fell into addiction after a sports injury.
Taken from Chapter 18 of my 2nd book, "Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism, and Heartache" we discuss what ground rules we set up a few years into our divorce to reduce stress and turmoil for our son. Each of us describe experiences during what can easily be referred to as "the Darkest Years," involving family dysfunction, chaos, conflict, untreated family disease, and the struggles along the way.
I describe the evidence of recovery in my own life in a recent situation, one that required me to go from 60 to 0 in relation to my family's deeply ingrained toxic conflict patterns.
Peace, health and well-being are a process. No one gets it right all the time.
Our son has come so very far. This is not because he had a fairy tale beginning, or parents who were anywhere close to perfect (not a chance). One reason he has found wellness is because we tried as a unit do the work to heal and recover. Setting conflict aside, and dropping the weapons to unite for the common goal of a son or daughter's well-being eliminates a lot of secondary problems. The whole system has to change when it comes to one person's recovery, that gives them the best chance possible.
Where we are now is a million miles from where we were and that's proof positive that regardless what you come from, or how bad it gets - an amazing life is POSSIBLE.
Most of us have have had coworkers or bosses that we didn't see eye-to-eye with. Some of us have even experienced it to a toxic degree, with coworkers or bosses who bully, manipulate, lie, slack off, blame... etc. Professional dysfunction can be especially taxing if we are simultaneously going through a hard time personally with a family member struggling with addiction, alcoholism, or mental/emotional health.
This week's Unhooked conversation covers stories of navigating toxic coworkers, bosses and work environments with My Brother's Friend Ben again!
This weeks conversation is with Dr. Patricia Strach, and Dr. Katie Zuber, from the Rockefeller Institute of Government, out of Albany New York. Both are at work on a project in Sullivan County, New York called "Stories from Sullivan," where they are meeting with families in a town ravaged by the opiate epidemic. Once known as the place to go for great health, Sullivan was a vacation spot, a much loved escape for families vacationing from the busy city. But as airplanes and air conditioning became more prevalent, the people of that area withdrew and fell prey to the epidemic that is affecting us all. Listen in to hear about their discoveries, the great impact being made for families, and please check them out on their website: http://rockinst.org/stories-from-sullivan
In this short clip, I shared the CliffsNotes version of my family's experience with addiction and mental health. This presentation was with Peace UMC.
We are six years into our recovery journey, the memories almost seem like someone else's story. We've come so far, more than a million miles! That's possible for anyone.
There is hope for any family to rise from the depths of addiction, despair and dysfunction.
(Note: the episode will end just before the Q & A with those in attendance.)
Check out my families story in Unhooked! Read about our recovery journey in Unbroken! Follow me Annie Highwater, Recovery Writer on Facebook!
My Brother's Friend, Ben is back in this week conversation about High Conflict Personality Disorder.
HCP applies to those who seem to live for, and thrive in constant conflict. We both give examples of experiencing it, being in the wrong ourselves when it comes to conflict and drama, and what might make for peaceful living when you have to do life around this type of person.
Is rudeness conflict? And what about people who ridicule others? Interesting info this week!
Because I personally have been inspired by her story and social media presence, I invited today’s guest on to share her amazing work.
Dawn Nickel is the creator of She Recovers, the largest recovery community on Facebook, and has been in recovery since 1987.
Dawn is dedicated to creating and holding space (online and off) for women in recovery to connect with themselves, and with other like-hearted women. She is trained as a professional recovery coach and also works as a research consultant in the areas of mental health, addiction and intimate partner violence.
Listen in as Dawn brings the recovery this week in a conversation full of real, raw (sometimes funny) truths and stories of openness and awakening that hit home; whether you are in recovery yourself, or the affected parent, or family member of someone who is.
SO much great information in this conversation!
You can find Dawn Nickel at She Recovers on Facebook or online: https://sherecovers.co/
I was personally impacted by the story of hope that this week's guest shared from the Tedx stage. I also love that when you search her on the internet, the first website that comes up has the message: “YOU ARE ENOUGH” in huge letters!
25 year-old Nadine Machkovech is a certified recovery coach and person in long-term recovery. As an educator on addiction and mental health, she is on a mission to positively disrupt the current landscape for adolescents, especially young women, across the country. In a world where "millennials" are often dismissed as selfish, entitled and oppositional, Nadine is blazing a respectable trail.
Today, Nadine is dedicated to building a life centered around self-care, service, and reconnecting others to their greater purpose in life. She is also the Chief of Operations of RISE TOGETHER , a grassroots non-profit organization that exists to ignite a movement of hope that is saving lives.
Listen in as Nadine courageously shares her strength and encouraging take on recovery. Her rise from addiction, to recovery, to a life abundantly lived is a gift for any young person and their family to hear!
You can find Nadine at: https://www.nadinemachkovech.com/
This week's conversation is with someone who not only has his own Eminem lyric, but has also been featured in an episode of Southpark! Author, motivational speaker, former pastor, and interventionist Jeff VanVonderen is best known for his appearances on A&E reality show Intervention.
Listen in as he unwraps SO MUCH interesting information, from addictions that are the most challenging to work with, to toxic church situations and spiritual abuse. Van Vonderen has the perfection combination of a kind spirit with strong boundaries. He shares great pearls of wisdom and just as he does on the show ~ will leave you feeling reflective, cared about and hopeful.
You can find his work or contact him at: https://www.jeffvanvonderen.com/
This week's conversation is with talented singer, songwriter Daphne Willis! I first heard Daphne’s powerful song “Somebody‘s Someone” last year and could not stop listening. It has become an anthem for family members and loved ones of anyone struggling with addiction or mental illness. The lyrics ring true for those dearly missing a much loved family member. Listen in to hear Daphne’s story and how she creates deep lyrics out of real life experiences that we can all relate to.
This week's conversation is with one of my own recovery mentors and good friend, Joe.
A few years ago I found myself "in the rooms," where I met who is now one of my all-time favorite people. Joe looks like a biker with a ZZ Top beard, and has an amazing way of saying profound truths at just the right moment. His statements are simple, yet powerfully impactful. It's been my privilege to witness Joe facilitate family groups—always reminding people who and what we can control, that there's SO much to be grateful for, and feeling sorry for yourself is not a great option!
Listen in to Joe tell his own story of recovery which involved waking up and finding peace in the midst of family turmoil.
Thanks for everything, Joe! My life is better because you're in it.
For support: https://www.facebook.com/TheAddictsParentsUnited/
This week's conversation brings the recovery with my friend Amanda. Amanda discovered Al Anon some years back after realizing her marriage was in trouble due to her husbands excessive drinking and the chaos it caused personally, and professionally. Looking back over her experiences and awakening, she shares rich truths that those who have been in these depths will understand.
Listen in to this week's real, raw, ENCOURAGING conversation!
If you or someone you know have ever experienced loss so sudden, shocking, and deeply felt that it took your breath, and kept it...this is the episode to hear. Author Susan Furniss describes living through the loss of a daughter, husband and one of her dearest friends within a short span of time. Her grief was so overwhelming at times she had to leave the grocery store before checking out.
Susan has written "Beneath the Surface. Grief." as a love letter for anyone walking the heavy road of mourning. Each page has relatable, short and easy to read passages and prose that provide comfort, encouragement and validation. Her newly released book is a perfect gift for yourself, or someone you care about if you don't quite know what to say.
Listen to this conversation to hear great suggestions, soothing assurances and information that we can all apply at some point. GREAT episode!
This week's conversation is with one of the sweetest women I have ever encountered. Katie Hamilton, the now ex-wife of American League MVP baseball player Josh Hamilton. Katie shares her story of finding strength and hope in her faith in the aftermath of a painful divorce from a marriage she poured her heart and soul into, and how she still cherishes the good within him.
Despite being a bewildered passenger on the rollercoaster of addiction, Katie learned to be strong, to stand up for herself, and to speak openly about their trials in an effort to find a way out of them. Listen in as she shares from a place of kindness and compassion about the power of forgiveness, faith, hope and above all else—love.
An encouraging episode for anyone needing a reminder to never give up!
This week's conversation is with lifelong family friend Ben. In order to be as open and real with listeners, as all of my guests are, I feel that sharing my own story, as I have with Ben over the years, would be a great way to open up my life and give highlights from my own personal journey of family recovery. Listen in as Ben and I discuss his first impression of coming to my family's home when I was a confused, highly stressed teenager with a great big chip on my shoulder. Ben describes what he thought of the extreme religious conversations he was first introduced to by my family in those days, and how it led to years of study of psychology, faith and stoicism. Great conversation with "my brother's friend, Ben!"
Have you ever experienced a “smear campaign” led by a once trusted partner, friend, or family member? It can feel suffocating. Those who join in against you add overwhelming confusion and pain. Everything you do to try to defend yourself and bring an end to it, seems to only make it worse! So what CAN you do? This is an amazing part of this week's podcast with Breakthrough Life Coach Lisa Romano!
Along with that, learn how dysfunctional childhood homes create codependency. You don't have to spend your life walking around on eggshells, feeling invisible, unimportant, or unworthy. Lisa has great suggestions for overcoming a toxic, codependent lifestyle. She describes her own revelation about being "codependent, not crazy." We discuss narcissists, narcissism versus Aspberger's, and female narcissists who seem like your very best friend. Ending with an example of a “Splitter,” which is someone who bonds and feels safe by dividing and manipulating people.
Lisa's work has been instrumental in healing my life. I loved this conversation!
You can find Lisa on Youtube, Facebook and on her website: www.lisaaromano.com
I love her videos SO much and I'm pretty sure we are now best friends! Tiffany Jenkins was so gracious and kind to share in this week's conversation how she has a life better than she could have planned for. As funny as she is, Tiffany is serious when it comes to addiction, mental health and all things recovery. She has a direct message of hope and strength to ANYONE struggling. Sometimes all it takes for a breakthrough when your life needs to heal - is a small glimmer of hope.
Had Tiffany not believed in her darkest moments that life getting better was possible, none of us would even know of her hilarious videos. Hers is a life that was rebuilt by hope!
If you or anyone you know is in need of a solid message of recovery, triumph and GREAT hope, listen to this week's episode!
Almost daily I hear from parents, partners and family members who think their loved one might be too far gone in addiction, or too deep in a drug induced psychosis to ever have a normal life. Well, it just does not get better than Lara Frazier when it comes to giving hope that life CAN be fully recovered! In this week's conversation Lara shares her rise from the ashes of addiction into a life that is thriving. Hers is a story of beautiful transformation! From living in her car (as her Dad walked the streets of L.A. searching for her, carrying her picture) to now living a sober, joyful, abundant life. Lara recovers out loud, openly sharing how the love of her family ran parallel to addiction's grip, guiding her to the decision to recover. Listen in to this week's episode that is overflowing with information and HOPE!
You can meet Lara on: larafrazier.com where she has an open letter to parents of an addicted loved one. So much hope!
This week's conversation is with Mary Burns, Author of the soon to be released book "Saving Eric," which details how her adopted son became addicted—and the lengths to which she went trying to save him. Mary explains the strong, loving bond they shared, that for her was no different than her bond with her biological child.
Sadly, after years of struggle and desperate efforts to help him, Eric lost his battle with addiction and died from an overdose on February 17, 2012. Mary now works to advocate for families impacted by addiction and loss. In a matter-of-fact way, she shares her family's struggle, describes the early days after Eric's passing, and tells where she turns with her grief. I share with her three hope-filled, definitions of the word "Departure" as it relates to death, something comforting I have read many times myself during grief and loss. This is an impactful conversation that only those who have come through deep sorrow may truly understand.
I love her blog, her personality, her accent and I LOVE that she has come on the podcast. This week's conversation is with Brooke Wilkerson, Creator of "The Coffee and Chaos Blog!"
No family is perfect. Are any even..."normal"? We all have our difficulties when it comes to family members. Even more so when our the dynamics have been saturated with dysfunction, addictions, conflict, or periods of silence and separation. However, we can still be kind, loving and even have peace in the midst of chaos. In this episode, Brooke Wilkerson and I discuss the family dynamics that led us both to repeat cycles of dysfunction, even the ones we despised. She describes how the decision to address the messy stuff changes the trajectory of a family, making it easier for our kids to choose healthy lives. Listen in as Brooke gives personal insight about handling the tough times of life and family with grace, dignity and humor!
Nothing better than an expert opening up about how they too are human and can find themselves in struggle, just like the rest of us. Listen to this episode as Sherry Gaba - seen on Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab; LCSW, Certified Recovery Coach and author of "The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery" and "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession" tells how our earliest moments of life can perpetuate a rhythm in relationships. Sherry tells of the insidiousness of addiction in a relationship that can make even the experts go to great lengths and repeat destructive patterns (sometimes for years) trying to fix what's broken.
Have you ever watched someone spend year after year in an unhappy relationship or marriage, believing he or she will likely never break free and have the life they deserve? In this episode, Abigail shares her story of waking up after spending decades in an odd, chaotic, and often terrifyingly dysfunctional marriage to a controlling, emotionally fragile alcoholic. Abigail calmly recounts what woke her up and the steps she took to break free. She now lives a life of peace, rejoicing in her newfound freedom - which includes dressing how she chooses, drinking cappuccino whenever she likes, doing "normal" things and not having repetitive feuds with family, friends or neighbors. Listen to this interesting tale of a woman who is finally free.
From finding their way into "the rooms" as a result of addiction presenting in the first of Brenda's two sons, Mark and Brenda Stewart hit the ground running in their own emotional recovery, stability, and marriage. They then came full-circle to launch one of the nations largest, most well-respected online family support communities.
Listen in as the Stewarts open their story to give rich insight about coming together as a blended family, managing the disease of addiction in the midst of that, and healing your way forward as a strong family unit. Mark and Brenda share great information and encouragement for families facing adversity, and give powerful tips for how to navigate those tough times in healthy unity. Closing the episode with strong perspective about Ohio's Constitutional Amendment, Issue 1 (the drug amendment).
So much information, strength and encouragement to glean in this episode!
It’s difficult to be unaware of the current condition of our culture, we are in a crisis of addiction as well as mental health. In fact, this week’s front page news featured coverage of a rally for depression and suicide. We have people jumping off parking garages! There is daily coverage about opioids, addiction and overdose numbers. Nationally, locally…we are in crisis.
Today’s conversation focuses on a related topic that is daily making news in Ohio - Issue 1. Dr. Dan Skinner is Assistant Professor of Health Policy at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, in the Department of Social Medicine, on the Dublin, Ohio campus. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from the City University of New York. Dr. Skinner teaches and researches about U.S health policy, and is active in health policy advocacy, especially in areas of health care access and health care reform for vulnerable and underserved populations. Listen in as Dr. Skinner gives us compassionate details of what Issue 1 involves and how it will effect families in the State of Ohio.
In this episode, I have the privilege of deep diving into the NY Best-selling book "Dreamland, the True Tale of Americas Opiate Epidemic," with the Author, Sam Quinones. Sam generously shares his rich experiences writing the book - from researching Mexican cartel trafficking (and their obsession with Levi's 501 jeans), to interviewing drug dealers in prisons who were open and raw with their stories, to getting to know the despair of family members impacted by a Loved Ones addiction. Sam paints the vivid picture of how the closing of community pools such as Dreamland (the books namesake) in Portsmouth, Ohio contributed to the gathering storm of what has become our countries worst drug epidemic in history. We discuss the dynamics of family members being as addicted to rescuing their sons and daughters, as those in active use are addicted to painkillers, heroin, opiates and other chemicals. Hearing Sam feels like listening to an old friend describe years of family and community stories that hit right to the heart of all of us.
Dreamland is a book everyone should read, and this is an episode everyone should hear!!
What should a police officer or fireman say when someone walks in desperate for help for an addicted loved one? Should they break out the handcuffs? Administer a drug test? Shame the struggling person or family member? Should they say "Nothing." ? Listen in as Firefighter/Paramedic and Assistant Chief Chris Menapace talks openly in this episode about the opiate epidemic as it relates to his work in the Whitehall, Ohio Firehouse. He shares profound stories from the front lines of this epidemic. Asst. Chief Menapace offers passionate ideas for saving lives and reversing the overdose numbers. I also share a traumatic experience I had once had when, in a moment of despair, I walked into a police station asking someone to please help my family. (Thank goodness as a culture we have come a long way since that day when it comes to showing compassion for families dealing with addiction.)
I am so excited about what this Ohio Fire Department is doing! From developing a "SAFE Station" Program where anyone wanting help, detox, or treatment can walk into this fire station and have that ball set in motion, to the WHO (Whitehall's Help for Overdoses) Program; Chris and his department are opening their doors, blazing a trail and doing what I believe every firehouse should consider.
So much information and and encouragement for affected families. We're making noticeable progress in Ohio—the heart of it all!
Is it weird to say that I am our local Coroner's biggest fan? Dr. Anahi Ortiz is interesting, open, kind, and as sharp as one would expect. The native New Yorker opens up to us about what led her to this work, where overdoses are happening around the city, what fuels drug trafficking (social media ?), how she separates herself from the stress of all she sees, and what hope we have as a community. Tune in for the fact-filled, anything but dreary conversation!
Ruth, a "recovering family member" has spent years working a program to heal and recover from the effects of the alcoholism and addiction in those around her. She shares her tumultuous story of overcoming patterns of family madness, and relationship choices that led her to relationships with the same alcoholic types of men. Ruth lays the groundwork for how she came out of it, and gives hope that we all can come out of our patterns and pathologies to live lives that are happy, joyous and free!
Beau openly shares his experience with an addicted daughter, and how the madness of her life was his "ticket" into the rooms of support. Hear this once desperate father's take on what recovery can do for a family in crisis.